Split: If you are addicted, is it a sin?

"Actually both my Priest and Mother Angelica would disagree with you. In order for something to be a sin, according to my priest and confessor, you have to have free will in the matter. By the very nature of true addiction you do not have free will. "

This is a split from another thread. The person quoted up above says that if you do not have free will in the matter…then not a sin…not even a venial sin as I tried to clarify that with them.

Also, it appears that the theory is that it has to be a physical addiction…not a mental one…like porn is a mental addiction but smoking or heroin use is a physical addiction and not a sin as the person does not have free will.

What does everyone say?


The answer to this is how you view addiction. Tragically much of the public has been brainwashed to believe that it is a disease and it is not.

Well then if it is not a disease.

The question is: “If addiction isn’t a disease, then what is it?” An addiction is a habitual response and a source of gratification or security. It is a way of coping with internal feelings and external pressures that provides the addict with predictable gratifications, but that has concomitant costs. Eventually these costs may outweigh the subjective benefits the addiction offers the individual. Nonetheless, people continue their addictions as long as they believe the addictions continue to do something for them.

Stanton Peele, PhD…the truth about addiction.

When you realize that this is nothing more than habit then it is and can be sin.

The science is pretty clear now…true addiction (“persistent use despite negative consequences”), as opposed to simple bad choices and behaviors, is truly an illness. We can see from brain scans that addicts have their free-will part of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex) severely compromised. This makes them sick people who can do very bad things; it matters not whether the addiction is “physical” or “mental”. No amount of punishment will change their brain chemistry…only treatment can do that.
This doesn’t mean they get a free pass on their behavior. It does mean that they should be considered sick rather than as sinners.


1862 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.

An addict who continues to use drugs would be committing an act that is grave matter but without complete consent - his volition being compromised by his addiction.

But still a sin.


I see you have swallowed the disease model. The brain washing campaign seems to work pretty well…

Less well known is that the government has invested millions to get an “addictive disease” message across. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is the government agency responsible forgetting to the root of drug abuse. Since 2003, the NIDA has been headed by brain researcher Nora Volkow, who has popularized the idea of “Addiction as a Brain Disease.” Typical of this exposure was the massive, 14-part series that premiered on HBO in 2007 that officially told Americans that addiction is a “chronic, relapsing brain disease.”

Today, it is rare to see a study claiming some new finding about such a “disease” in which Volkow is not quoted (findings about self-cure, thought far more common, get much less coverage). According to Volkow, drugs (and now, it seems, many other activities) stimulate the neurochemical dopamine in the brain. The brain becomes acclimated to this dopamine saturation, and will do anything to prompt restimulation of the chemical. Volkow views this process as the inevitable—and inescapable—result of people taking certain drugs (although which drugs—and whether only due to drugs—is a matter of some dispute).

The addiction is inescapable, that is, unless it is treated medically, according to Volkow, who in 2011 spurred the formation of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. Except, there really is no agreed-upon medical treatment for addiction. While some drugs (like naltrexone) have been used in therapies for both narcotic addiction and alcoholism, none has been reliably successful. So, when you enter a major medical addiction treatment center, you invariably end up attending AA groups.

The whole “brain disease” model of addiction invites many ruminations—critical thinking we hope that you will learn to do on your own. Do all drugs operate through the same dopamine centers in the brain—narcotics as well as stimulants, marijuana as well as cocaine, alcohol as well as drugs, and so on? Do other activities stimulate dopamine production in the brain? Does gambling (which American psychiatry has now declared to be addictive)? Does eating? Does sex? Does shopping? Can you simply replace the dopamine created by taking cocaine by shopping? I don’t think so!

from Stanton Peel, PhD…The Truth about Addiction

Asking Stanton Peele about addiction is like asking Martin Luther to comment on a Papal election…sure, you will get a loud opinion, but more axe grinding than anything else. His stuff has been discredited for years now…


By whom has Stanton Peele, PhD been discredited. His Life Process Program was used at St. Gregory Retreat for addiction and they are credible. They had a falling out but that has not affected his credibility. Who discredits Peele?

From when someone is in the throws of addiction, they can not stop even when they desperately want too. Even when they are destroying their lives and others around them. The compulsion to drink/use is too strong. It’s an illness. If it was not an illness, then addicts could use moderately, but because they can not then it definitely is an illness.:slight_smile:


You may want to look at the work of Reid Hester found here…

I would imagine you would agree he has satisfactory credentials


then click on his link on behavior therapy found here


then half way down the page on what works found here


**Brief interventions
****Motivational enhancement **
GABA agonist (Acamprosate)
Community Reinforcement
**Self-change manual (Bibliotherapy) **
Opiate antagonist (Naltrexone)
**Behavioral self-control training **

and then if you want to believe it is a disease then look at the ranking of the disease model approach and the effectiveness down at number
37 & 38…

In other words having your doctor tell you, hey you better cut back on your drinking, lets get some liver tests and we will talk next week…is the most effective

Motivational enhancement is next best

Community reinforcement is 3rd
Self Change is 4th
Behavior self control training is 5th

Community reinforcement is when your family is involved and tells you that you might consider changing your behavior

Sounds like a habit to me and not a disease

My submission would be yes…you can stop…difficult yes…not denying that. But it is a sin none the less…although their addiction and perpencity to addiction would make them less culpable which would put it in the venial vs. mortal as they are not truly free. I just think people go too far by saying it is not a sin at all! It is a cross to bear…as we all have.

Thats for people that can control their drinking with behavioural change. Problem drinkers not addictsalcoholics. Where abstinance is a must.

Itotally agree with you :slight_smile:

:thumbsup: Those who treat addictions will often say that you aren’t going to quit unless you really want to quit. Otherwise an addiction would be a life long sentance to loss of will and there would be no ex-drug or alcohol abusers.


If addiction was not an illness then those that use would use moderately but because they cannot it is an illness.

If addiction was not a habit then those that use would use moderatley, but they can not then it is defininetly a habit.

Neither statement can be used as proof for either premise.


Jesus Christ the Bearer of the water of life says…


addiction and recovery is being used instead of sin and salvation…


You base this on what information?

What I find very interesting is that you could be debating on the Alcoholism Support group I belong to who refuse to admit powerlessness because it would then involve a power greater than themselves to relieve them of their alcoholism.

If you’re not an alcoholic, you have no idea what an alcoholic goes through. Only God was able to lift the obsession to drink. There was NO way I could do it on willpower alone. Took surrender for me.


Any habit has ex-habit performers. Name one habit and those that no longer have the habit and they are all ex-habit of whatever.

Nicotine is the most addictive substance on this planet and yet those that smoke and then stop smoking do it of their own volition. Those that quit have a reason to quit and studies show that using drugs, patches, etc are no better than having a reason to stop. Having a reason to quit is the biggest and most common factor in quiting any habit.

The sad part of the swallowing of the “disease model” is that every AA/12 step program and meeting has smokers. If the addiction were treated and if the disease model had any value then why do smokers keep smoking after they stop drinking or using drugs?

My grandparents,mother,most my aunties, sister,myself being addicts. Both my sister and I work in the field of addiction. I attend AA/NA and do CBT courses. There is a totally big difference between those being able to learn to control their drinking and those that cannot.

I think it’s because some need to reach rock bottom with whatever their addiction is. Richard Rohr does say that addiction itself is sin and we are ALL addicted to something, even if it’s the mindset of having to be right.

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